An April 7 incident involving use of a Taser has three Rehoboth Beach police officers facing an independent review.
Chief Keith Banks said the officers' use of force incident will be independently investigated, which Banks said could take two to three weeks.
Banks said officers Robert Tyler Whitman and Curtis Sauve responded to a call about a disorderly subject who was shouting at staff at the Crosswinds Motel on Rehoboth Avenue.
Banks said officers encountered Jeremy Anderson, 34, of Harrisburg, Pa., on the sidewalk outside the hotel. Anderson began walking away and cursing at the officers, Banks said. He said officers detected an odor of alcohol from Anderson but police have reported no tests of Anderson’s blood alcohol content.
Anderson did not respond to verbal commands; Banks said one of the officers put his hand on Anderson, who threw a punch. At that point, Banks said, the officers warned Anderson they would use a Taser if he did not comply with their directions.
A woman identifying herself as Anderson’s wife then began recording the incident on video; the video surfaced on YouTube April 13.
The five-minute video begins with Whitman and Sauve asking Anderson to put his hands behind his back. Anderson puts his hands up, and Whitman shoots him with a Taser. Whitman uses the Taser on Anderson several more times, as the woman who says she is Anderson’s wife asks the officers to stop.
Banks said Anderson took one of the Taser prongs out of his chest; Whitman then switched the Taser setting in an effort to subdue Anderson.
Throughout the incident, Anderson swears at the officers. The woman videoing the incident repeatedly asks police if she can take him home. Sgt. Victor Letonoff arrives on the scene just as Anderson, who is on the ground, leans towards Whitman’s foot; it appears that Whitman kicks Anderson in the head.
Asked about that part of the video, Banks said Whitman may have been responding to Anderson's attempt to bite him.
Anderson continues struggling as the officers try to handcuff him. The woman again asks Letonoff to let her take Anderson home. She says she’s eight-and-a-half months pregnant; she pleads with Anderson to calm down, but Anderson continues to swear at the officers as they try to cuff him.
As he is put into a patrol car, Anderson tells the officers, “See you in court.”
In a prepared statement, the Crosswinds Motel management said Anderson came into the office and asked to have a key to his girlfriend’s room. The clerk asked if he was a guest. Anderson said he was not a guest, but his girlfriend was. According to a staff member, Anderson was extremely agitated. The staff member said Anderson’s girlfriend, who identified herself as his wife on the video and was pregnant, arrived from Ocean City with another man.
After being told it was not hotel policy to provide a key to anyone who was not a guest, Anderson became abrasive, swearing at the clerk, who then asked Anderson to leave, which he did, but he returned a few minutes later trying to get the key. In the statement, Crosswinds management said Anderson did not indicate which room he was looking for or whom he was with.
Rebuffed again, Anderson went into the parking lot and continued to be loud and belligerent. Twice more, he went back into the office and shouted profanity at the clerk and spat in the office. After a fourth appearance in the office, the clerk called the police. When a housekeeper told Anderson he had to leave, he did, walking on Rehoboth Avenue towards the beach.
According to a local business owner who witnessed the incident, Anderson had a confrontation with the woman who made the video on the sidewalk near the city Building and Licensing Office at 306 Rehoboth Ave. The witness said Anderson was physically assaulting the woman.
Anderson was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown and on April 11 pleaded guilty in Delaware Court of Common Pleas to one count each of resisting arrest, offensive touching of a police officer and menacing, Banks said. He said at this point the case is over as a legal issue.
Anderson has filed no complaint against the Rehoboth Beach Police Department and has filed no lawsuits in Delaware Superior Court. Banks said Whitman was placed on administrative leave. Sauve and Letonoff are still on active duty.
Banks declined to identify the woman who made the video because she was not a victim or defendant.